Town Hall: Herrera Beutler Critiques Stimulus Bill, State Tax Proposals

Congresswoman Says President Biden Should Have Tried Harder to Make Stimulus Package Bipartisan


Southwest Washington’s U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler further defended her vote against the most recent COVID-19 stimulus package during a telephone town hall event this week, telling constituents that Democrats made no effort to garner bipartisan support on the $1.9 trillion bill.

“I know that President Biden talked a lot about wanting to be bipartisan, but I’m going to be honest … I think it was a failing on his part not to work harder to get bipartisan members of the Senate and House,” she said Thursday. “... They did not want to respond to any criticism we had.”

Earlier this month, after the passage of the bill — which granted $1,400 stimulus checks to many and boosted programs such as unemployment — Herrera Beutler aligned herself with other Republicans in characterizing the bill as a bloated Democratic wishlist.

Despite not supporting the package, the Battle Ground Republican pointed to its impacts — billions of dollars now coming to Washington state — as a reason why new taxes shouldn’t be progressing in Olympia.

“I think our local economies and our families right now are struggling economically. But Washington state coffers are not,” she said, noting the state’s tax revenue forecast, which recently showed a windfall recovery. 

“I cannot state strongly enough that having an agenda to raise taxes really sharply conflicts with the reality that small businesses and families have been losing money hand over fist and have been having a hard time making ends meet.”

Herrera Beutler referenced her personal request made to Gov. Jay Inslee that new taxes be taken off the table. She specifically cited the capital gains tax, which has moved through the state Legislature much to the ire of Republicans. While supporters say the tax would target a minority of wealthy Washingtonians and address the state’s regressive tax code, Republicans have framed it as an income tax, illegal under state law.

Herrera Beutler also warned against any new gas taxes from the state or federal government, saying she’s concerned that a $3 trillion infrastructure package expected to be unveiled by the Biden administration could rely on the “outmoded” funding strategy.

“I don’t believe the best way to pay for an infrastructure bill is by creating a gas tax. I think it’s a diminishing resource with cars being more fuel efficient, with people choosing electric cars,” she said. “But also because people in Washington state have been hit with some of the highest gas taxes in the nation.”

In Washington, motorists currently pay $.49 on the gallon, compared to the federal rate of $.18.

Once revealed, the infrastructure package should be bipartisan, Herrera Beutler said. “There’s no ifs ands or buts about it.”

In a poll conducted during the town hall event, participants ranked economic recovery and immigration as their top priorities. And when asked about the latter, Herrera Beutler began with her support for a robust seasonal worker program, citing migrant workers who grow shellfish or pick fruit throughout her district.

“I also believe we need to have control of our borders. It’s not a crazy concept to say we will decide who comes in and who goes out. Every major country in the world does this. Every single one,” she said.

The sixth-term representative also highlighted the partisanship around immigration, saying she’s only gotten a chance to vote on an immigration bill two or three times in all her years in Congress due to contention around the issue.

To address the issues at the southern border, she told constituents that Democrats and Republicans will need to “quit demonizing the other side.”

“Make no mistake. If anyone tells you they’re going to be able to do this and it’s only a partisan bill, it’s not going to stick.”